How To Not Write A Review Without Really Trying Step One: Don't Mention the Film.
Nostalgia is a funny thing. It makes one long for things that childhood once made special, things that now hold no intrinsic meaning save the memories they hold, like Fraggle Rock episodes, or that creepy bachelor uncle who smells like old leather and sour wine and triggers sense memories of dark closets and “Dr. Finger”. The problem with thinking about things you loved as a child is, frankly, that you’re stupid when you’re young. I’m not talking about the drinking too many Jello shooters, doing two guys at once in an alley , setting a hobo on fire with lighter fluid just to hear him burn kind of stupid. I’m talking stupid stupid, like the kind of people who do Ali G impersonations and text message Total Request Live. Kids are dumb, no matter how cute they are or how well they can spell ‘funicular’. And the best part is, when they grow up, you can make a killing reminding them of how stupid they were, by silk-screening a Deceptecons logo on an American Apparel shirt and selling it to pimpled film students on their way to a comic convention at the local Marriott. I, for one, do not take kindly to be reminded of past idiocies, which is why I burned my high school yearbook and killed anyone who remembers me with a devilock.
Fortunately, I am not subject to fits of childhood nostalgia. A babe of the 80s, regressive hypnotherapy and repressed memory treatment has ensured that I remember nothing of that decade save ritual Satanic abuse and the odd Wham! single, so they only thing I have to be nostalgic about is what I can remember of the 1990s. And that doesn’t leave much to look fondly upon, unless you’re a big fan of lenticular Spiderman covers and R&B stars with pencil-thin mustaches licking their lips like they’re made of black licorice. I resisted many a fad as a child, from New Kids On The Block shoelaces to Biker Mice From Mars. To this day, I have yet to see a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, and the only use I had for GI Joes was to burn those of my next door neighbor at the Popsicle stick for witch-craft and sodomy. The problem with nostalgia is that it causes people to look back on bad films with crap-colored glasses, which, like trying to read a stop sign through the left lens of 3D goggles, doesn’t allow you to see these movies for what they are. Most movies target to children are lightening-paced flashes of color and jokes about passing gas, which remains thrilling to the type of people who TiVo Prison Break but is baffling to the rest of us. It leads to the kind of people who bitch about the new Star Wars trilogy in comparison to the old, which to me is as ridiculous as complaining about a new marshmallow color in Lucky Charms. All six movies are like Care Bears in space, designed to sell toys and keep the kids quiet on a Saturday afternoon. Jar Jar isn’t treading any ground an Ewok hasn’t chirped himself to death on, and the fact that the Yoda’s now done by computers instead of by muppet doesn’t change the fact that he’s a Zen Kermit for toddlers.
So, my whole childhood is a bust. There’s nothing to be nostalgic about, nothing to look back upon and smile. All that’s left for me is nostalgia for a decade I didn’t experience, and I smartly picked 1955-1965. I had to crib on the dates, picking odd numbers, because any earlier than ‘55 and you start running into Elvis Presley musicals and educational shorts about personal hygiene. Any later, and all the movies look like they were colored by melted crayon, and the music starts to go from corny twang-rock to fourteen-minute songs about God and cocaine by bands with names like Hawkwind. And that’s where Jason and the Argonauts comes in. From firmly within my chosen decade of adulation, the film is as stupid as one would expect from a kids’ movie, with actors that require a few more scans through a Stella Adler handbook before even attempting a soap opera audition, but it has awesome stop-motion animation from Ray Harryhausen. A brilliant special effects artist, Harryhausen’s immediately identifiably work was not part of my experience growing up, but I wish it had been. That way, I could complain about how the new King Kong has lost the soul of the original because the effects look like a PS2 game instead of child’s flipbook. As it stands, I’ll just have to stick to sputtering angrily about the fact that Gredo shoots first.